While traditionally most Twitter users want their tweets to reach the widest audience possible, Twitter Circle was a great way for users to downsize the visibility of certain tweets to a curated few.
The idea behind which was to allow for a more ‘personal’ connection. Here you could express your true feelings to a trusted few, and generally find a safe space within the platform to connect with others.
In practice, it was also a great way for people to complain about spouses, crap on work colleagues, tell some risque jokes that wouldn’t fly on the main timeline, and occasionally send out artful unclothed images of themselves.
How do I know this? Because a recent bug has reportedly seen a number of those private conversations appearing on the ‘For You’ timeline of unintended recipients – even users that have previously been blocked by members of the circle.
No more tweetcrets
The bug, reported by users of the social media platform over the weekend, isn’t the first time Twitter Circles has encountered issues since the feature launched in 2022. A number of glitches in February of this year gave users cause for concern when it became unclear if Circle tweets were posting privately or not.
While it seems these glitches were small in number, privacy was (and is) a key concern among users due in part to the recent overhaul at Twitter following Elon Musk’s takeover.
These concerns were only exacerbated when former head of Trust & Safety, Yoel Roth, made his own concerns public at a Knight Foundation conference by stating “If protected tweets stop working, run, because that’s a symptom that something is deeply wrong.”
Speaking to TechCrunch, former Twitter Engineer Theo Browne hypothesised that the recent glitch is potentially an issue with Twitter’s recommendation algorithm. The recently published open source algorithm uses a number of models to source, rank and filter tweets. However, Browne believes it is failing to adequately filter private tweets.
Elon Musk had previously forewarned users in a Twitter Spaces session that the “initial release of the so-called algorithm is going to be quite embarrassing, and people are going to find a lot of mistakes, but we’re going to fix them very quickly.”
Should the current bug be a result of the recommendation algorithm’s shortcomings, Musk’s previous heads up may have simply failed to accurately point out who said mistakes would be embarrassing for.
In the meantime, Twitter users with a fear of falling foul to the site's ongoing privacy bug are best sticking to direct messages when it comes to the sharing of personal information.
Outlets have reached out to Twitter for further information on this issue, however, Twitter’s official response appears to simply be an auto responded: “💩”